Open main menu

Tragedies of Euripides (Way)/Rhesus

< Tragedies of Euripides (Way)
For other English-language translations of this work, see Rhesus (Euripides).

 

RHESUS.

 

 

ARGUMENT.


When Hector and the Trojans, as Homer telleth in the Eighth book of his Iliad, had driven the Greeks from before Troy back to their camp beside the sea, the host of Troy lay for that night in the plain overagainst them. And the Trojans sent forth Dolon a spy to know what the Greeks were minded to do. But there went forth also two spies from the camp of the Greeks, even Odysseus and Diomedes, and these met Dolon and slew him, after that he had told them in his fear all that they would know of the array of the Trojans, and of the coming of their great ally, Rhesus the Thracian, the son of a Goddess. And herein is told of the coming of the Thracian king, and of all that befell that night in the camp of the Trojans.

 

DRAMATIS PERSONÆ.


Hector, captain of the host of Troy.

Aeneas, a Trojan chief.

Dolon, a Trojan.

Shepherd.

Rhesus, king of Thrace, son of the Muse Terpsichorê.

Odysseus, a crafty Greek.

Diomedes, a valiant Greek.

Athena, a Goddess.

Paris, named also Alexander, a Trojan, son of Priam.

Charioteer of Rhesus.

The Muse Terpsichorê, mother of Rhesus.

Chorus, consisting of sentinels of the Trojan army.

Guards of Hector, Soldiers of the Thracian army.

Scene:—In the camp of Troy, before Hector's tent.

 

 

RHESUS.

 

Enter Chorus marching to Hector's tent, before which stand guards.


Chorus.

Ho, pass to the couch of Hector your lord,
Ye watchful henchmen that guard his sleep,
If perchance he will hearken our tidings, the word
Of them through the night's fourth watch that keep
The wide war-host safe-fenced with the spear.
Ho! raise thine head on thine arm upstaying;
Unseal thine eyes, the battle-dismaying:
Leap from thine earth-strewn leaf-bed sere,
Hector: 'tis time to hear. 10


Enter Hector from the tent.

Hector.

Who cometh?—the voice of a friend?—what wight?
The watchword give. Speak thou!
Who are ye that draw nigh in the hours of the night
To my couch? Ye must answer now.


Chorus.

Sentinels we.

 

Hector.

Why then this affright?


Chorus.


Fear not.


Hector.

Is an ambush of darkness on us?


Chorus.

Nay, none.


Hector.

Why then hast forsaken thus
Thy watch, and uprousest the host, if thou bring
No tidings? Knowest thou not how nigh 20
To the Argive spears lie slumbering
Our ranks in their battle-panoply?


Chorus.

(Str.)
Nay, but with armed hand, Hector, speed
Hence to thine allies' resting-place:
Rouse them from slumber, and bid upraise
Spears: let a friend to thy war-band run.
Bit ye and bridle the chariot-steed.
Who will go for us to Panthoüs' son,
Or Europa's, the chief of the Lycian array?
Where be the choosers of victims to bleed? 30
And the captains of dartmen, where be they?
Archers of Phrygia, let sinews be slipped
O'er the notches, to strain the bows horn-tipt!


Hector.

In part dost thou bring to us tidings of dread,
In part of good cheer; nought plainly is said.
Hath Zeus' son Pan with the Scourge of Quaking
Struck thee, that thus thy watch forsaking
Thou startlest the host? What meaneth thy clamour?
What tidings are thine? In thy panic-stammer
Of thronging words is a riddle unread. 40


Chorus.

(Ant.)
Argos' array is with balefires aglow,
Hector, enkindled the livelong night;
And the lines of their galleys with torches are bright.
And with tumult to king Agamemnon's tent
Streaming their warrior-thousands go:
"Thy behest!" they cry: they are vehement.
Never in such wise heretofore
Scared was the sea-borne host of the foe.
So—for I doubted what time hath in store—
Bearing my tidings to thee I came, 50
That with thee I be henceforth clear of blame.


Hector.

Timely thou com'st, though thou dost herald fear.
Yon men are minded to flee forth the land
With darkling oar, escaping so my ken:
Their beacons of the night flash this to me. 55
Ah Fortune, that thou shouldst in triumph's hour
Rob of his prey the lion, ere my spear
With one swoop make an end of Argos' host!
For, had the sun's bright torches not been quenched,[1]
I had not stayed the triumph of my spear 60
Ere I had burnt their ships, swept through their tents,
Slaying Achaians with this death-fraught hand.
Afire was I to press on with the spear
By night, take heaven-sent fortune at the flood;
But your wise seers, which know the mind of God, 65
Persuaded me to wait the dawn of day,
And leave then no Achaian on dry land.
But the foe—they for my soothsayers' rede
Wait not: in darkness runaways wax in might!
Swift must we speed our summons through the host 70
To grasp their ready arms, to shake off sleep,
That some—yea, as aboard their ships they spring,—
With backs spear-scored may stain their gangways red,
And others, bondmen snared in coiling cords,
May learn to till the glebe of Phrygian fields. 75


Chorus.

Hector, thy fiery haste outrunneth knowledge.
Whether they flee we know not certainly.


Hector.

Why then should Argos' host set fires ablaze?


Chorus.

I know not: yet mine heart misgives me much.


Hector.

If this thou dread, then know thyself all fears! 80


Chorus.

Such blaze our foes ne'er kindled heretofore.

 

Hector.

Nor ever knew such shameful rout as this.


Chorus.

This thou achievedst: see thou to the rest.


Hector.

'Gainst foes one watchword shall suffice—to arm.


Chorus.

Lo, where Aeneas comes in hot-foot haste, 85
As one that beareth tidings to his friends.


Enter Aeneas, Dolon, and others.

Aeneas.

Hector, for what cause through the host have come
Darkling unto thy couch scared sentinels,
Startling the host, for nightly communing?


Hector.

Aeneas, in war-harness case thy limbs. 90


Aeneas.

What meaneth this? Is stealthy ambuscade
Of foes 'neath darkness' screen announced afoot?


Hector.

Our enemies flee: even now they board their ships.


Aeneas.

What certain proof hereof hast thou to tell?

 

Hector.

All through the night they kindle flaming brands: 95
Yea, and methinks they will not wait the morn,
But, burning torches on the fair-benched ships,
In homeward flight will get them from this land.


Aeneas.

And thou, with what intent dost arm thine hand?


Hector.

Even as they flee, and leap upon their decks, 100
My spear shall stay them and mine onset crush.
Shameful it were, and dastardly withal,
When God to us gives unresisting foes,
After such mischiefs wrought to let them flee.


Aeneas.

Would that thy prudence matched thy might of hand! 105
So is it: one man cannot be all-wise,
But diverse gifts to diverse men belong—
Prowess to thee, to others prudent counsel.
Thou hear'st of these fire-beacons, leap'st to think
The Achaians flee, dost pant to lead thine host 110
Over the trenches in the hush of night.
Yet if, the foss's yawning chasm crossed,
Thou find the foemen not in act to flee
The land, but set to face thy spear, beware
Lest, vanquished, thou return not unto Troy. 115
How shall we pass in rout their palisades?
How shall thy charioteers the causeways cross
And shatter not the axles of the cars?
Though victor, thou must still meet Peleus' son,
Page:Tragedies of Euripides (Way 1898) v3.djvu/479 Page:Tragedies of Euripides (Way 1898) v3.djvu/480 Page:Tragedies of Euripides (Way 1898) v3.djvu/481 Page:Tragedies of Euripides (Way 1898) v3.djvu/482 Page:Tragedies of Euripides (Way 1898) v3.djvu/483 Page:Tragedies of Euripides (Way 1898) v3.djvu/484 Page:Tragedies of Euripides (Way 1898) v3.djvu/485 Page:Tragedies of Euripides (Way 1898) v3.djvu/486 Page:Tragedies of Euripides (Way 1898) v3.djvu/487 Page:Tragedies of Euripides (Way 1898) v3.djvu/488 Page:Tragedies of Euripides (Way 1898) v3.djvu/489 Page:Tragedies of Euripides (Way 1898) v3.djvu/490 Page:Tragedies of Euripides (Way 1898) v3.djvu/491 Page:Tragedies of Euripides (Way 1898) v3.djvu/492 Page:Tragedies of Euripides (Way 1898) v3.djvu/493 Page:Tragedies of Euripides (Way 1898) v3.djvu/494 Page:Tragedies of Euripides (Way 1898) v3.djvu/495 Page:Tragedies of Euripides (Way 1898) v3.djvu/496 Page:Tragedies of Euripides (Way 1898) v3.djvu/497 Page:Tragedies of Euripides (Way 1898) v3.djvu/498 Page:Tragedies of Euripides (Way 1898) v3.djvu/499 Page:Tragedies of Euripides (Way 1898) v3.djvu/500 Page:Tragedies of Euripides (Way 1898) v3.djvu/501 Page:Tragedies of Euripides (Way 1898) v3.djvu/502 Page:Tragedies of Euripides (Way 1898) v3.djvu/503 Page:Tragedies of Euripides (Way 1898) v3.djvu/504 Page:Tragedies of Euripides (Way 1898) v3.djvu/505 Page:Tragedies of Euripides (Way 1898) v3.djvu/506 Page:Tragedies of Euripides (Way 1898) v3.djvu/507 Page:Tragedies of Euripides (Way 1898) v3.djvu/508 Page:Tragedies of Euripides (Way 1898) v3.djvu/509 Page:Tragedies of Euripides (Way 1898) v3.djvu/510 Page:Tragedies of Euripides (Way 1898) v3.djvu/511 Page:Tragedies of Euripides (Way 1898) v3.djvu/512 Page:Tragedies of Euripides (Way 1898) v3.djvu/513 Page:Tragedies of Euripides (Way 1898) v3.djvu/514 Page:Tragedies of Euripides (Way 1898) v3.djvu/515 Page:Tragedies of Euripides (Way 1898) v3.djvu/516 Page:Tragedies of Euripides (Way 1898) v3.djvu/517 Page:Tragedies of Euripides (Way 1898) v3.djvu/518 Page:Tragedies of Euripides (Way 1898) v3.djvu/519 Page:Tragedies of Euripides (Way 1898) v3.djvu/520 Page:Tragedies of Euripides (Way 1898) v3.djvu/521 Page:Tragedies of Euripides (Way 1898) v3.djvu/522


  1. Reading dubious: ξυνέσχον gives no indisputable sense.